A kindhearted Santa Claus won an Indiana family over when he surprised their 2-year-old daughter with a special gift: a bell from Prancer the reindeer.
Stacy Mason told TODAY she and her husband Chris and their daughter Paige stood in line for two hours last week at the mall where they live in Evansville, Indiana, to see Santa. But the wait was worth it. Mason and her daughter suffer from a rare condition that makes their bones brittle, and when Santa noticed Paige was in a body cast from a broken femur a couple weeks earlier, he decided to make her visit especially memorable.
"He reaches in his pocket and pulls out this bell and tells her a story about how it fell off Prancer's harness, and Prancer told him that he would be meeting a very special child soon, and when he does, he should give that bell to the child," Mason said. "I started crying as soon as he said that."
Paige was mesmerized by the tale, her mom added.
"She hung on his every word," Mason said. "She's two, she doesn't quite understand, but she was excited for the bell. But we understood exactly what was happening, and how special it was. He told her that if she is ever scared or has to go to the doctor, or if she's sad, to give this bell a jingle and it will be a reminder that Santa loves you and that Mommy and Daddy love you."
It was a small gesture, but one that meant a lot to the Mason family. And now the story has gone viral after Mason posted the photo on Facebook. She's just grateful Santa, who recognized Paige from the past couple of years, took the time to acknowledge their daughter's cast and condition, and do what he could to make her feel special.
Mason and her daughter both have osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease.
"We have type 5, which is extremely rare; there are only about 100 cases that have been genetically confirmed worldwide," Mason said. "And Paige and I are two of those. It means that we have a lack of collagen in our bones, which makes them brittle, and a simple fall can, and often does, lead to a fracture."
That's exactly what happened about two weeks ago, when Paige tripped and fell, breaking her femur. It was her tenth fracture. Her pink-and-purple cast goes down her entire torso and the length of the broken leg, and halfway down the other leg. Mason, who uses a wheelchair, said they have to prop their daughter up with pillows or on a bean-bag chair because of the cast.
Her sweet Santa story has gotten lots of attention online, prompting Mason to create a Facebook page for her daughter, so people can learn more about their condition.
"We think he's an amazing Santa, and bringing awareness of mine and my daughter's condition, and spreading Christmas cheer was my whole reason for sharing it," she said.